Governments established apart from the positive impact and imprint of God’s Kingdom are always doomed to fail. The riotous activity in Egypt this week is but a small picture of what is likely to happen in other places throughout the world – even here in the United States. What we see in the Arab world are not merely out-of-control people, but people controlled by a bad system of beliefs, including bad religion.
The Kingdom of God represents God and inspires God likeness. It is the power and influence of His Kingdom prevailing in our lives and society that makes meaningful life possible for all who will believe. Jesus said there will be “wars and rumors of war” until the end, but we, as His people, are not to be frightened. We are to live in the peace that the King and His Kingdom make possible even in the midst of riotous activity and perilous times. Keep in mind, the Kingdom does not merely refer to the future Kingdom of Heaven, but also the promised power available in Christ through the Holy Spirit filling us now, if we are available to Him.
Most believers understand and accept the promise of a secure future after death. A USA Today poll recently revealed America’s favorite hymn to be “Amazing Grace” and one of the verses accurately portrays the future of all who know King Jesus:
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
Christians accept this future Kingdom, but most have failed to understand the importance of Jesus’ bold first proclamation, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” We are challenged by Him to renounce the lifeless beliefs of prevailing worldviews and ungodly beliefs along with the ways of bondage and come into agreement with God. Men move from the dominating kingdom of this world’s influence into the Kingdom of God. When Jesus said, “It is at hand,” He was clearly declaring it is near! It is right here! Right now! Knowing Him to be at our side teaches clearly that Kingdom life is living in His presence in the present! Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you see the Father.” He has revealed how the Kingdom behaves and how the King living in us enables us to behave. We don’t have that power in ourselves, but He has sent this other person just like Himself to live in us. This is life in the fullness of the Spirit. Jesus said He did “only those things which please the Father.” He lived abiding in His presence and told us that if we would abide in Him allowing Him to abide in us, we would know the truth and the knowledge of this truth would enable us to live in indescribable freedom. This is Kingdom life!
Recently, I was driving in a pickup truck on country roads with Princess, our little dachshund,riding in my lap. As I watched her staring out the windshield with her little paws resting on the steering column, I could tell that she was enjoying every moment. Watching her was exhilarating to me. I actually began to talk to this little German dog with very short legs and a beautiful slick-as-a-seal black coat as though she could understand me.
I said, “Princess, I don’t know if you are aware of how much I enjoy holding you in my arms, just having you here in my lap and watching how much you enjoy going everywhere I go. To see how excited you are just to be with me and go with me gives me joy!” And it was as though God whispered in my ear, “That’s Kingdom life! I want my family to know how much I enjoy holding them in My arms observing how excited they are to be going wherever I go doing whatever I will to do.”
My friends, this is the Kingdom available to every one of us! Our Lord has told us that we are to repent and believe the Gospel allowing Him to so live in us that His Kingdom will shall be accomplished right now, right here, through His family of believers. We are not orphans. We are sons and daughters of the King! Awareness of this truth is liberating. It is like breathing in spiritual reality allowing the very real Jesus to deal with very real problems and finding real hope.
Let me remind every reader that the Kingdom of God is present reality, demanding personal responsibility as a result of the relationship we enjoy with Him. A right relationship and fellowship with God inspires us to develop meaningful relationships with others and to desire with all our heart for everyone to understand the power of adoption into the family and Kingdom of God. All relationships become more important and more meaningful when we have the right relationship with our Father in heaven.
The Old Testament prophets continually warned the people of God concerning the danger of setting up ruling powers in their lives that replaced Kingdom authority. Consider the prophet Hosea’s words of correction and call to repentance delivered to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. With a broken heart he was calling an adulterous nation back to the righteous Kingdom of God. In the following, I am sharing key proclamations I believe are applicable to us today here in America and throughout the free world. You would be well served and greatly inspired if you read the entire book of Hosea:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. The more they multiplied (the bigger they got), the more they sinned against Me. It will be like people – like priests. There is a spirit of harlotry within you. You have born illegitimate children (children of the flesh, not of the Spirit – You have Ishmaels, not Isaacs). You were oppressed and crushed because you were determined to follow man’s command. Return to the Lord and He will heal you. You have transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law. You sow the wind (mere words – so much hot air) and reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads. It yields no grain (there’s no real fruitfulness). If it does yield, strangers will swallow it up. You have multiplied altars and they have become altars for sinning. If I wrote ten thousand precepts of My law, you would regard them as a strange thing. You have said you will return to Egypt (the world’s ways) and you have forgotten your Maker and built temples. (We have too often built church buildings rather than the Kingdom of God.) They speak mere words and with worthless oaths you make covenants and judgment sprouts like poisonous weeds in the field. It’s time to break up your fallow ground and seek the Lord until He rains righteousness on you. You’ve plowed wickedness and have reaped injustice. You have eaten the fruit of lies because you trusted in your own ways and in your numerous warriors. (We too often trust in numbers rather than God.) You had your own pastures (a clear reference to our ways of material prosperity and to our religious traditions rather than His Kingdom) and they became satisfied, and being satisfied their heart became proud and they forgot Me. Take your words with you and return to the Lord. Assyria (the world) will not save us. We will not ride on horses (flesh). We will not say “our God” to the works of our hands.
Now, my friends, hear the liberating truth:
For in Thee the orphan finds mercy.(It is through the knowledge of Him and a relationship with Him that all of the fatherless can be adopted into the family of God – the Kingdom of God!) God says He will become like the dew and enable us to blossom like the lily. Those who live in His shadow will again raise grain. Let him who is wise understand these things and whoever is discerning know them, for the ways of the Lord are right and the righteous will walk in them.
Hosea closed with God’s clear invitation for everyone to come to the shelter of the Almighty – the same invitation Jesus offered when He prayed over Jerusalem, even as He knew of the coming predicted desolation. He wanted the people to run like little chicks under the wings of the hen. It is this shelter we are invited as individuals and, yes, as nations, to return to with our whole heart.
It is interesting that He closed this invitation by saying that people will not see Him until they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!” As I read this in the Scripture, it hit me straight in my heart and tears began to flow down my cheeks because I heard God saying that we need to be excited about anyone coming to us in the name of the Lord, delivering His truth and the hope that He offers. Not just a future hope, but a present hope! This is His abundant life prevailing in us.
It is important to note that Hosea closed with a reference to fruitfulness. He was saying basically what other prophets had said including Joel, who announced that when we repent “God will make up to us for the years the locusts have eaten.” I didn’t have to read The Prayer of Jabez in order to recognize that God the Father desires to bless His children. He wants the best for us. So when Hosea closed saying we would “again grow grain,” this is God’s promise of fruitfulness in our personal life and in our land. True, He gives us the ability to “rejoice in whatever state we’re in” and whatever condition we’re in and be content just as Paul was even in prison. But keep in mind, when we release the power of God’s Kingdom, we, too, will be fruitful and blessed in every way in order that we may share these blessings with others. All of God’s promises are fulfilled in Him and by Him when we recognize and receive the power of His Kingdom – its governance in us and for us ultimately for His glory and purpose on this earth, right now!
This is the atmosphere we are to breathe and live in. Theologian and scholar Dallas Willard says, “When Jesus directs us to pray ‘Thy Kingdom come,’ He does not mean we should pray for it to come into existence. Rather, we pray for it to take over at all points in the personal, social and political order where it is now excluded… With this prayer we are invoking it, as in faith we are acting it into the real world of our daily existence.”
Repent and believe the Gospel because His Kingdom is at hand, right here, right now!